The residents of Greenwood came together Thursday night to remember the devastation they endured half a century earlier.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Greenwood High School Student Union at 6 p.m. Thursday for an event presented by The Greenwood Democrat. A magazine unveiled at the event titled "Voices from the Storm," produced and edited by Greenwood Democrat Editor Dustin Graham and Publisher Summer Aina, states what is now believed to be an F4 tornado struck Greenwood on April 19, 1968, killing 13 people, injuring hundreds more and either destroying or badly damaging over 400 homes and businesses. The population of Greenwood at the time was 2,000.
One of the highlights of Thursday's event was the premiere of a documentary titled "Four Minutes in April." The video, which was produced by the Greenwood Democrat and edited by Reagan Jones of Greenwood, featured numerous survivors of the tornado providing their perspectives on the disaster and the destruction it left in its wake. The events and scenes they described were accentuated by pictures and news footage depicting the aftermath of the tornado.
What followed was a message from the city of Greenwood delivered by Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow, who himself was 10 years old when he lived through the tornado.
"I am so fortunate, we are fortunate, one, to be here, to be able to commemorate 50 years later of such a devastation," Kinslow said. "And I believe I saw where (Greenwood's population) was approximately 2,000 people. We know we're approximately ten (thousand), so to be five times larger than we were then. We could have easily just gone away. Greenwood could have just as easily have been literally blown off the map and it almost was, but people, the people you saw ... people that worked and had no thought of leaving, the only thought they had was to rebuild, to continue what they had been doing and to make Greenwood bigger and better as it is today."
There was a panel discussion led by Greenwood Democrat Editor Dustin Graham that featured five survivors of the Greenwood tornado, including Kinslow, Cinda Bell, Dr. James Burgess, Orin Frank and Drucilla Hughart. Those in the audience were invited to ask the survivors questions about their experiences.